In 2011 Seligman vpresents his “well-being theory” in which he refines what Positive Psychology is all about. He explains the four pillars of well-being (meaning and purpose, positive emotions, relationships, and accomplishment), placing emphasis on meaning and purpose as the most important for achieving a life of fulfillment. He wonders now what is it that allows you to flourish? "Well-being" takes the stage front and center, and Happiness or Positive Emotion becomes one of the five pillars of Positive Psychology, along with Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment - “PERMA” - the permanent building blocks for a life of profound fulfilment vi. Seligman and his colleagues have developed tests to help you discover your "signature strengths". They identify 24 character strengths, which they classify under 6 virtues, i.e. the virtues of wisdom, courage, love, justice, temperance and transcendence vii. Virtuesare qualities that crop up time and again in history - no matter when or where - and are esteemed in philosophy and religion. Researchers think that there may be biological grounds for this, which could explain how
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evolutionary natural selection takes place on the basis of these "qualities of excellence". Character strengthssuch as being discreet, impartial, inquisitive, helpful, etc. are the psychological qualities through which people apply these virtues. Positive psychology uses research to try to substantiate how and why people use these qualities to improve their own health and welfare and that of others. “Flow” is a concept coined by Csikszentmihalyiviii(who kindly explained to us that to correctly pronounce his name, we just need to say “cheek-sent-me-high”) ix. His life work started out with research on creativity. In his in-depth interviews on creative processes, Csikszentmihalyi noticed that artists often used the word “flow”. Since then, research on Flow has been widely flourishing within Positive Psychology. The state of Flow is colloquially known as “being in the Zone”, and has several characteristics. When in Flow, people tend to get immersed in the present moment and in the action. People in Flow often report “losing themselves”, yet somehow remaining “in control” of what is happening. Typically, people in Flow tend to lose track of time. Flow is also experienced as intrinsically rewarding, and may therefore contribute to our Subjective Well-being. Let us give some examples. On the one hand, when asked to solve sums like “2+2”, mathematicians will probably not reach Flow because their perceived skills are much higher than required by the perceived challenge (leading to e.g. boredom instead). On the other hand, when asked to explain Einstein’s Relativity Theory in Latin while juggling, most of us will not reach Flow because our perceived skills are lower than required by the perceived challenge (leading to e.g. anxiety). Yet an experienced mountaineer climbing the Himalayas is quite likely to experience Flow: we can reach Flow when our perceived skills and the perceived challenge somehow correspond. We may
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